With a release planned for late 2014, filmmakers Amélie Ravalec and Travis Collins discuss the process behind Industrial Soundtrack for the Urban Decay, a film exploring the fundamental beginnings of a provocative and creative artistic/musical genre.
An InterView with Amélie Ravalec & Travis Collins
By ReGen Magazine Staff
Just what is industrial music? For nearly four decades, that question has been asked time and again, with no singular or definitive answer. Emerging as an underground art/music/media form, the genre of industrial music has undergone so many permutations and encompassed varied styles and techniques that have become part of the standard of modern music. With their film Industrial Soundtrack for the Urban Decay, filmmakers Amélie Ravalec and Travis Collins sought to trace industrial music back to its roots in the avant-garde of Europe and America; due to be released in late 2014, and featuring such legendary acts as Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, NON, SPK, Test Dept., Clock DVA, Z’ev, and The Klinik to name but a few, the pair dare to tackle the question from the source and explore the fundamental beginnings of what is still one of the most provocative and creative of artistic and musical expressions. With questions submitted by various members of the ReGen staff, Ravalec and Collins offer an inside view into their thought processes in the making of the film without waxing philosophic on the genre they seem dedicated to, while also vehemently resisting ReGen’s attempts to elicit the pair’s thoughts on the evolution of the genre and touch on areas beyond the scope of the film.
What’s the biggest cultural divide you’ve seen between the industrial and avant-garde scenes in different countries?
Ravalec: We lived in a few different places – Berlin, Paris, Melbourne, Brussels, and Perth – and you always meet similar people in those scenes, whichever country you are in. It might have been a cultural shock 40 years ago to go to a gig in a different country, but these days with internet and the standardization of the western world, you can’t really tell the difference. The elements you need to have a lively and healthy scene are the same everywhere – good local artists, dedicated promoters who are willing to spend time and money on something different, an open-minded crowd, and good record shops. That said, we very much look forward to touring the film in Japan and checking out the scene there!
Of those interviewed, which artist’s story surprised you the most?
Who do you wish you interviewed but couldn’t/didn’t?
Ravalec: I wished we could have interviewed Coil, as they’re my favorite band ever. It would have been great to meet people behind important labels such as Daniel Miller of Mute or Geoff Travis of Rough Trade; we also wanted to interview journalists like Jon Savage and Simon Reynolds to have a different perspective, but I’m very happy with the cast of people we interviewed as all my favorite artists are featured.
Collins: We contacted many other industrial bands, journalists, and labels who for whatever reason, we were unable to get in contact with or declined to be interviewed. This list includes Einstürzende Neubauten, Laibach, Simon Reynolds, Daniel Miller, Monte Cazzaza, and many others. Since launching the trailer, we have had many bands and individuals contact us to be interviewed, but we already have 20 hours of interviews already and we are more than happy with the film we have put together. It’s an honor for our film to include many of the founders of industrial music including Throbbing Gristle, SPK, and Cabaret Voltaire.
You stated that Jean-Pierre Turmel had stories about Ian Curtis, which does bring up the question of the division between ‘goth’ and ‘industrial,’ since the two have for quite some time been limped together as the ‘goth/industrial’ scene. Having already stated your thoughts on how industrial has changed on its own, what are your thoughts on the fundamental connections and differences between the two forms as they have progressed in conjunction with each other?
Ravalec & Collins: No comment.
As artists have moved away from practical industrial sounds toward electronically-produced industrial sounds, how would you say the landscape of the genre has changed?
Ravalec: Back then, I think people were more spontaneous with the way they approached music; they collaborated more easily and got things done with whatever equipment they could find. Today, artists have access to an unlimited supply of software to make music, but somehow, I think this can restrain creativity as you end up spending more hours downloading the latest plugins than actually making music.
You mentioned good record shops earlier, which have seemed to be much fewer in number with the proliferation of digital media and the internet, although there still exists a demand for vinyl among audiophiles and hardcore collectors. Having discussed the technology used in the production of the music, what are your thoughts on the shift away from physical toward digital and online media and its effects on the scene?
Ravalec/Collins: No comment.
What is your end-goal for this piece?
Ravalec: I want it to be the reference film for industrial music. I hope people can look back at it in 20 or 50 years and still find it relevant and learn something from it. It would also be great to open the film to a different audience so that people who don’t know industrial music can discover it and find that this isn’t just about metal bashing or weird music.
Collins: The film is almost finished; we plan to launch it at film festivals and tour with the film wherever we can screen it. We will do some Q&As at screenings too. There’s a lot of content, which can’t all be included in the film so this may be included in the DVD or in some other format. We will have to wait and see.
Have you ever considered expanding the scope of the film in order to include some of the more illustrious and commercial industrial trends of the ’90s, and thus appeal to even broader and more mainstream demographic?
Ravalec: No. I make films the way I want to and so far I have been 100% independent with it, both financially and creatively. The mainstream end of the genre doesn’t interest me and I’m sure a TV channel or a fashion blog would be much more appropriate in taking a commercial angle than I would.
Was there a singular moment during the production of your film that you could consider revelatory and that somehow changed your own views and opinions on the industrial music and movement?
Ravalec: When you make a film, you learn a lot more from the subject than you would any other way. I read a lot of books and interviews, but nothing can beat meeting the people who created this music, to hear their stories firsthand and get the answers to the questions you always wanted to ask. As far as the filmmaking process goes, it’s always wonderful to reach the near end of the editing, when the story you imagined years before is finally coming together and is looking just the way you wanted it to be. It’s a lot of hard work; we both work nonstop on it, but it has definitely paid off.
Collins: Considering this is my first film and it’s D.I.Y. in every respect, I’ve learned a lot from the experience. Working with Amelie, who is both my partner and the driving force behind the film, has been testing at times, but it’s also been heaps of fun. We make a good team; Amelie edits and does the hard and technical work, then I critique what she has done and say let’s do it this way. Ha ha. Well, not exactly. I’ve had to learn to be less of a control freak and perfectionist. I have lots of creative ideas; I’m good at that, but Amelie is the one putting it all together and everyday by working together, striking a compromise, the film gets better and better.
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